Welcome to Project CRYSTAL

About

Project CRYSTAL (Colleagues Researching with Young Scientists, Teaching and Learning) started in Professor Hazel Holden's lab (UW-Madison) in 2009.

Project CRYSTAL provides an opportunity for motivated middle school students to explore research science through real graduate-level research projects. The teaching team of Professor Holden and graduate students Becky Phillips, Ari Salinger, Haley Brown, and Karl Wetterhorn present a topic each week in lecture format, and then the group heads to the lab to experiment. See the Learn Along with Young Scientists page to see what the group is up to!

Mission

Project CRYSTAL's mission is to provide a hands-on laboratory experience for middle school students in an active, state of the art research laboratory. Through teaching and research, Project CRYSTAL aims to instill a love for chemistry and foster interest in a future career in science in middle school students.

History

Project CRYSTAL (Crystallographers Researching with Young Scientists: Teaching And Learning) started in Professor Hazel Holden's laboratory (University of Wisconsin -Madison) in 2009. Professor Holden was instrumental in crafting a program that gives middle school students the chance to work on graduate-level research in a state-of-the-art laboratory.

During the school year, selected students from the seventh or eighth grade intern in the Holden lab under the supervision of graduate students Becky Phillips, Ari Salinger, Haley Brown, and Karl Wetterhorn. 

One day a week, each of the middle school students spends approximately 1.5 hours in the laboratory learning about and carrying out each step of their research projects. The biochemistry material covered is taught both through interactive lectures and hands-on research. The projects are ideally suited for teaching the excitement of chemistry and biochemistry by providing fundamental contributions to the future design of new antibiotics and cancer therapeutics. Students learn a variety of biochemistry techniques including DNA cloning, E. coli cell growth, protein expression, protein purification, X-ray crystallography techniques, and the use of three-dimensional structure-building programs. At the end of each program year, participants will have obtained valuable tools for furthering their science education, and will have completed a research project worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Project CRYSTAL is beginning its fifth year in 2013-2014, and we are excited about its future. It is our hope that other laboratories will also reach out to the next generation of future scientists so that more young students can experience the wonder of research.

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